I already posted on the ethics deficits in the New York Times front page editorial (First time since the 1920s! AHHHHHHH!!!) that was gaining such embarrassing hosannas from liberals and anti-gun zealots over the weekend. To sum up that post, the Times wrongly connected its hype to a terrorist incident irrelevant to its argument, simply to gain emotional traction; made an impossible and largely symbolic demand, focused on a class of guns that has minimal impact on national gun deaths; and, like most calls for “gun control” of late, including the President’s, was aimed at gaining incremental public acceptance of gun confiscation and banning, while pretending otherwise.
That post did not point out, however, that the Times intentionally neglected to inform its readers and those it hoped to persuade (or mislead, panic, or stampede) of the above essential news that is not only “fit to print,” but that must be printed if a newspaper is going to claim that “the attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.”
The fact is that per-capita murders in the U.S. are at their lowest level since FBI records began (in 1960), and they are trending downwards. There is no “crisis,” at least no gun crisis. Terrorism is another story.
The Times makes the point that “motives do not matter to the dead” (a failed attempt to justify piggy-backing the grandstanding editorial on a terrorist attack that no plausible gun regulations would have stopped), but it is just as true that lethal weapons “do not matter to the dead.” If it is, as the Times piously says in accusing them of callousness and corruption, the job of elected leaders “to keep us safe,” our elected leaders, by the evidence of the statistic, are doing an excellent job.
The dramatic Times front page bloviation announces that the Times, like other gun-hating citizens, politicians and groups, prefers that Americans be murdered with instrumentalities other than guns, and is willing to gut a constitutional right to accomplish that goal. Okay…I don’t personally think that’s worthy of a front page sermon, but okay: it is good to know the current state of progressive support for individual rights,which is to say, abysmal. Nonetheless, an ethical newspaper still has a duty to let readers know what the true context of an editorial is, which in this case wasn’t the world of facts, or public safety, but misleading political activism. A terrorist attack was being used, cynically, as a springboard for anti-gun advocacy (and also to distract from the Woolly Mammoth in the room, the inconvenient truth that radical Islamic terrorists, including one that has sailed thorough State Department “screening,” killed 14 people in California), and not the urgent need to address a “gun epidemic.”
There are many ways to spin, slice and dice the FBI statistics, of course. How low would the murder rate be, for example, were it not for the addition of minority drug-dealing gangs in the inner cities, a factor that the previous, higher rate years lacked? Wouldn’t that be a more productive and honest subject for a thunderclap Times editorial?
Note that “murders” precludes suicides. Don’t you think suicides should be off the table when anti-gun advocates are talking about Congress’s duty to keep us safe? If the concern is people shooting other people, why are suicides included in the gun deaths statistics used by anti-gun activists? (Easy answer: to inflate them, that’s why.) One might be tempted to ask if the increase in gun sales and gun ownership has been a factor in lowering the murder rate. I don’t believe that, but I would sure want to be sure before I decided to mess with a healthy trend.
Yes, the dramatic decline could be purely demographic, with aging baby boomers killing fewer people than they used to, and so what? If the Times is going to make a big deal over the fact that this is its first editorial foray onto its front page since President Harding, why did it wait so long? Why no Big Editorial in 1979, for example, when Democrats had both Houses of Congress and Jimmy Carter was President, and murders were at their highest point, a.k.a. “The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms”?
That’s an easy answer too: because Democrats had both Houses of Congress and Jimmy Carter was President. The Times’ sense of indignation and urgency is oddly linked to its partisan preferences.
The Times is welcome to its opinion, no matter how polluted by partisan bias and based on specious logic and dubious motives. It is not welcome to state such opinions while hiding facts that undermine its position and credibility, however. Meanwhile, those who cheered this exercise in irresponsible journalism either reveal themselves as fans of the ends justify the means when it comes to removing the First Amendment, or they must admit to being duped by a newspaper that successfully used emotion and confirmation bias against them.
Whichever it is, and I don’t see a third explanation, it’s nothing to be proud of.
Let me add that I notice that the Supreme Court has declined to review a challenge to Chicago’s “assault weapons” ban. Good. Banning civilian ownership of assault weapons makes sense, though eliminating them is impossible. If a city’s elected leaders choose to do so, that’s a legitimate decision.
I also notice that Chicago, like many other large cities (governed by anti-gun Democrats) is in the midst of an epic rise in murders, in spite of its ban.
Facts: Washington Examiner
Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts, and seek written permission when appropriate. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work or property was used in any way without proper attribution, credit or permission, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at firstname.lastname@example.org.